Thursday, September 30, 2010

technology

Robot puppet/cirque performance, part of the entertainment during the Vancouver Convention Centre open-house - April 2009.

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Thursday Challenge

Next week:  MUSIC (Singing, Dancing, Playing, Instruments, iPods, Concerts,...)

Monday, September 27, 2010

grandkids and music (# 94 − 102 of 1000 gifts)

I have been neglecting to write down these gifts as I receive them, so end up reflecting back over the week Monday morning. There's always one or two things that jump out "Pick me! pick me!" This week I was sure I'd fall short of my goal of seven things (at least one for each day of the week). But as I think of it, I can easily count seven gifts from the past week and a few more ...

94.Two doses of the grandbabies were highlights as the kids stayed the night Wednesday before catching a ferry for a few days of vacation in Tofino. Wouldn't you know, they were there for the rainiest stretch of weather so far this fall. Fortunately they got back yesterday without any road washouts or floods. Many on the Island were not so fortunate.

95. Saturday night my sis took me to "On a Night Like This — James Hill and Friends." We heard Exit 58, Chalmers Doane and of course, James Hill (a ukulele virtuoso). The concert was a blend of bluegrass, old tunes, jazz, even techno (though some might call it torture). What an unlikely but totally delightful treat. As James would say — "It was so ukulele!!"


James Hill's Ukuleles

In case you're curious, here's what a ukulele virtuoso sounds like.


Nature's many lovely surprises, like these three finds from the last week.

96. Mushrooms


97. Dogwood fruit (Kousa Dogwood, I think)


98. Spotted Touch-me-nots

99. Alpha starts tomorrow. My responsibilities of overseeing the setup and cleanup of the meal make it a bit of a stressful time. But so far, things have fallen into place beautifully.

100. I get to go to Turkey's today or tomorrow to buy the tablecloths and napkins for our Alpha session. I love going to Turkey's. Browsing through all their stuff makes me feel like throwing a party.

101. The Experiencing God course is so good. There's lots of homework in the accompanying workbook, but the underlining and highlighting in my book so far attest to how much I'm getting from it.

102. I heard from a mag I've written for before, on a query I sent them last week. The answer is "Yes. We want to see it" (Woot!! — Now to get a 'yes' from the interviewee, do the interview and write the piece...)

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If you'd like to join me and many others collecting One Thousand Gifts, please do. Some post their gifts on blogs, while others list them in private journals. Instructions on how to join are here




holy experience

Friday, September 24, 2010

book review: Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites ... and Other Lies You've Been Told by Bradley R. E. Wright, PhD

Title: Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites...and Other Lies You've Been Told
Author: Bradley R. E. Wright, PhD
Publisher:  Bethany House, July 2010

ISBN-10: 0764207466 
ISBN-13: 978-0764207464


"Many of the statistics currently bandied about regarding the Christian faith in the United States are incomplete, inaccurate and otherwise prone to emphasize the negative," says sociologist Bradley R. E. Wright in the first chapter of his book Christians are Hate-filled Hypocrites... and Other Lies You've Been Told. "Christians are exposed to many inaccurate statistics about our faith," asserts Wright. "To understand why that happens we should look at how these statistics are produced and how they spread through the public." p. 18

Wright proceeds to remedy that situation in the eight chapters that follow. Using what he describes as "the best available data" he examines how Christians are doing in six areas: church growth; what we believe; our participation in church activities; family and sexual issues; how we treat others; and how others see us.

Chapters two to eight each begin with examples of what Wright considers myths. These are grandiose statements about the dire state of the church and Christianity. Some examples: "It is clear that we have all but lost our young people to a godless culture" — Josh McDowell (Chapter 3); "Only 9% of born-again Christians have a biblical worldview" — George Barna (Chapter 5); "I am sorry that so often the biggest obstacle to God has been Christians" — Shane Claiborne, Esquire Magazine (Chapter 8).

Wright delves into the origin of these and other statements, showing how the data on which they are based are faulty. Some common problems he unearths: survey size too small, words and terms not clearly defined, and data misinterpreted when the technical language of the statisticians is not understood by lay people. He explains how such myths gain traction when they get spread around by people who select data that emphasize the severity of the problem in order to underline the urgency of their message.

In chapter nine Wright assigns letter grades to Christianity, especially Evangelicalism, on a variety of issues in report card fashion. He then gives conclusions about his findings. Throughout the book he illustrates his points with graphs. End-matter includes four appendices, end-notes and a list of references.

Wright's prose is readable but dense. It required my close attention, but I admit that reading about statistics and their analysis isn't something of which I do a lot. Although the graphs no doubt clarify issues for the savvy reader, to me they made the text look intimidating and technical.

Wright comes to some interesting conclusions. His analyses shows how a survey can be manipulated to serve a purpose. He makes it clear that not all data are equal and not all surveys, polls etc. carry the same weight. He comes down especially hard on the Barna Group, picking apart their work and conclusions in at least four places (p.104, 126, 181, and 225).

He concludes that the church is doing better than one would expect from the tone of some Christian leaders and researchers. He further encourages readers to go against instincts to view statistics as sacrosanct and instead to question their accuracy and the writers' motives for writing. He assures readers there is nothing wrong with disagreeing when conclusions go against their experience.

Focused as it is on America, I'm not sure how relevant the conclusions of this book are to the evangelical Christian culture of other countries. However, if you want to get some encouragement to think for yourself and a more optimistic picture (than the usual sky-is-falling depiction) of how Evangelical Christianity is doing in the U.S., Bradley Wright's Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites is a book you'll want to check out.

(Read pages 1-28.)

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Article first published as Book Review: Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites ... and Other Lies You've Been Told by Bradley R. E. Wright, PhD on Blogcritics.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

fun

Vertigo  
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Thursday Challenge

Next Week: TECHNOLOGY (Machines, Gears, Engines, Mobile Phones, Laptops, Wires, Toy Robots,...)

Monday, September 20, 2010

accelerating (#88-93 of 1000 gifts)


I can't believe we're already into the 20s of September. It's a good thing the fall routine doesn't kick in all at once, or I'd be overwhelmed. So far, it's a good new season, made better by attentiveness to the gifts that weave through my life:

(88) Soft fall days... everything seems mellower in autumn.

(89) The colour orange.

(90) A digital bathroom scale (Not so much! But it is keeping me on the straight and narrow — sort of).

(91) Love the almond taste of apple seeds. (Does anyone else do that — eat the centres of apple seeds?)

(92) Last week at the women's weekly program at my church, I signed up for "Experiencing God," a course taught by DVD with accompanying workbook by Henry Blackaby. I think I'm in for a growth spurt!

(93) The testimony of mature saints. Maybe that sounds weird, but I'm not sure how else to say it. On Saturday our church had a leadership training meeting and they played a DVD of a conversation between some Christian leaders that have been around for a long time (Jack Hayford, Loren Cunningham, Winkie Pratney, Lloyd Ogilvie, John Perkins, Henry Blackaby, moderated by Dave Buehring).

It was beautiful, and sweet, and made me look forward to conversations we'll have in heaven. I even found a sampler for you. Watch the clip below and be blessed! (14 minutes)


Fathers of the Faith Sampler from Fathers of the Faith on Vimeo.


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If you'd like to join me and many others collecting One Thousand Gifts, please do. Some post their gifts on blogs, while others list them in private journals. Instructions on how to join are here




holy experience

Saturday, September 18, 2010

book review: Here, on the Ground by Marianne Jones

Title: Here, on the Ground
Author: Marianne Jones
Publisher: Friesen Press, May 2010 
ISBN-10: 1770670319 
ISBN-13: 978-1770670310


If you are aware of the tension between what is and what could be, the contrast between the real and the ideal, the distance between earth and heaven, the poems in Here, on the Ground will resonate with you. This collection of 58 poems is Canadian award-winning poet Marianne Jones' second (her first book Highway 17 was published in 1997).

Through her poems Jones addresses a variety of subjects: relationships, women's issues, the allure of a simple life, personal pain and growth, Bible characters, writing, and what it feels like to live through a Canadian winter. I thoroughly enjoyed the variety. But no matter what the subject, Jones always manages to twist the knife of new awareness in some way.

Sometimes she does it through allusion. That is the effect of the word "alabaster" in these opening lines of "The Jar" that takes us back to the story of the woman who broke her jar of perfume to anoint Jesus:

"You split my heart open
that was calm and contained as alabaster..." — "The Jar" p. 32.


Sometimes she does it with images, as in this poem that speaks of leaving a toxic relationship:

"You were always uneasy about having me around anyway
like an old grenade in your house." — "grenade" p. 33.


At other times her intertwining of old and new captures our attention. A poem that's titled "sleep disorder" speaks of modern Christianity's lethargy in language that reminds us of the sleepy disciples in Gethsemane:

"We mean well;
it's our eyes that are heavy..." "sleep disorder" p. 41.


At still others she uses extended metaphor with a telling and humorous effect, as in the poem titled "Canadian Tire":

"At the temple of function over form
navy clad worshippers in sober boots and parkas
file through sliding jaws
of Entrance and Exit, leaving offerings..." — "Canadian Tire" p. 63.

Whatever the subject or device, we sense the tension between the ideal and the real. It comes out in her poems about the environment:

"One drop of beauty shames a library of tomes.
One loon's call speaks better things
than all their interviews" — "noise pollution" p. 6.


We hear it in the tone of voice as she speaks through the persona of a Bible character:

"before god walked away
and this long night began
i felt grass under my feet;
i saw sky blue and everlasting


i have almost forgotten how blue" — "job speaks" p. 25.


Most of all this dichotomy comes out in her poems about relationships. Of these a poem about forgiveness speaks with candid power:

"Forgiving is being forced to squeeze through a dark tunnel,
I panic, thinking I will stop breathing
or be unable to endure the knife cuts
But then I come to the openness and light at the end
and laugh, or weep for sheer relief..." — "upon opening my prison door" p. 36.


Of course there are fun poems in the collection as well. The section titled "red shoes" contains several whimsical poems that speak from the viewpoints of fairy tale characters. The book ends with a tongue-in-cheek section titled "How Canadians Survive Winter" (Jones, who lives in Thunder Bay Ontario, knows whereof she speaks).

Though some of Jones' poems touch on the subject of her Christian faith, they never confront the reader in a preachy way. Throughout we feel like we are in the company of someone idealistic, who, when she takes a close look at her inner self often finds she doesn't quite measure up. Her honesty helps us identify the issues she grapples with in ourselves, empathize with her disappointments, and celebrate her insights.

This is a rich and accessible collection that will reward readers in many ways.
...from the back cover

Read snippets from Google Books.

Article first published as Book review: Here, on the Ground by Marianne Jones on Blogcritics.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

school

Mural on the wall of a local secondary school. 
(Click on photo to enlarge.)


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Thursday Challenge

Next week: FUN (Festival, Fair, Carnival, Party, Playground, Dancing, Laughing,...)

Monday, September 13, 2010

back in the harness (#79-87 of 1000 gifts)

Mill Lake, Abbotsford, BC
My calendar is mysteriously filling up — another proof that fall is indeed here. But busy or not, reasons for gratefulness keep appearing...

(79) I redid the website for my poetry group. It worked out, even to the custom domain mapping stuff. Whew!

(80) Ever had contact dermatitis? That's apparently what caused the extreme itchiness of my eyelids and the skin just below my eyebrows early in the week. Not nice! It's better now. I'm so thankful for the absence of itchiness.

(81) Every person who is willing to help with our church's Alpha setup and cleanup.

(82) An editor who, with contributor's copies, wrote in a note: "I very much enjoy your work. So please keep writing!"

(83) Spinach salad with balsamic dressing.

(84) Hubby, who is around (talked to my girlfriend whose spouse is away for weeks on end... it's hard). (85)  Furthermore, he wants us to sign up for ballroom dancing lessons — how sweetly romantic.

(86) Had a fun lunch with old friends on Saturday followed by (87) a beautiful walk around Mill Lake. 

Walking on water?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

no 9-11 tit for tat

Nine years ago today I sat in front of the television stunned, hardly able to take in what I was seeing. Though time has dulled the shock of the images I saw that day, to me 9-11 will always be the day on which North America lost its innocence.

So, when I heard that some pastor was planning to commemorate this day (and register his protest of the Islamic Community Centre planned for two blocks from Ground Zero in New York City) by publicly burning the Koran, I shuddered. We don't need to take more steps down that tit for tat path!

Sarah Cunningham, author of Picking Dandelions: A Search for Eden Among Life's Weeds, feels the same way. Though she was In New York after the tragedy and lived through the horror, she is encouraging Christians to foster peace and good will in the name of Christ. Part 4 of her book retells her account of being at Ground Zero following the attacks, when she served as a disaster relief team leader. Here us an excerpt from the book...

"I don’t know who among us had faith before we arrived, but it seemed as if nearly everyone found it or recovered it somewhere in the crevices of Ground Zero.


The relief workers on site were stretched to exhaustion as we forced our eyes awake at night—days after the last survivor had been found, but still days before all the searching would end. Regardless of your prior beliefs, when you find the end of your own energy supply, it is at least tempting to look for some source of renewal outside yourself.


This is why I often found myself praying furiously—as I had in childhood—for things like the safety of the firefighters who refused to stop searching for fallen comrades even as rain poured down on the wreckage….Even my prayers were sometimes interrupted by the unidyllic blasts of of a bullhorn warning that parts of the tower might crumble further, in which case we were told simply to run in the opposite direction.


While the tower lay in pieces, shreds of people’s lives lay exposed in Union Square as stunned family members frantically searched for news of their loved ones. …Talk about God was as common as talk about the weather. Questions like, “Why did this happen?” and “How will we go on?” became the standard replacement for the usual “How are you?” and “Nice day we’re having” greetings.


…I’m convinced God was there somewhere too, browsing about the tents and the conversations, reuniting with people he had not talked to in ages and lapping up quality time with others before the moment passed and our to-do lists invited us back into oblivion, to routine tasks like picking up dry cleaning or washing our cars.” ~Excerpt from Part IV of Picking Dandelions: A Search for Eden Among Life’s Weeds

In this time of heated rhetoric, I'd like to join Sarah and others in toning down the shrill. One way you can do that is read a book — Sarah's book. Sarah will be giving away free paperback copies of her book today. Details here.

She will also be giving away unlimited downloads of her book for free on Amazon.com during the week of September 11th Free downloads begin on September 13th.

Read her response to the Ground Zero Mosque.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

music

Langley Ukulele Ensemble 
(Community Parade - June 2010)

Trailer from the movie The Mighty Uke



LUE in action at the Ukulele Ceilidh: Astor Theatre in Liverpool, Nova Scotia on October 24, 2009


More Langley Ukulele videos here.

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Thursday Challenge

Next week: SCHOOL (Buildings, Children, Uniforms, Buses, Bicycles, Books, Pens and Pencils,..)

Monday, September 06, 2010

last week of summer (#72-78 of 1000 gifts)

The days are shorter, the air is cooler, but mostly the calendar page has turned again. Summer is over. But the last week of summer was so fine.

72. We had a whole seven days with daughter and the grandkids. It was wonderful!







73. A girl's outing with my daughter. We went to Toy Traders, then Costco where I picked up my 2011 Polestar Family Calendar, after which we had swirl ice-cream and waffle cones.

74. The start-of-fall smell in the air. It's the sweet composty fragrance of decaying leaves together with ripe grass.

75. The house, all tranquil and airy after Saturday cleaning.

76. Wild blackberries.

77. A Sunday nap.

78. New beginnings. September always feels like the New Year to me.

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If you'd like to join me and many others collecting One Thousand Gifts, please do. Some post their gifts on blogs, while others list them in private journals. Instructions on how to join are here






holy experience

Saturday, September 04, 2010

has he learned anything?

It's just a year since our son had his fall from a roof. Today's Vancouver Sun has a short feature on him in the "life" section: Ben Nesdoly

He happened to spend last night here, so we read the piece together online this morning. He needed to do a little explaining when it came to this section:

"And yes, he can still be found swinging a hammer on Metro Vancouver rooftops, still not harnessed in unless certain death awaits at the bottom -- something he feels he can gauge pretty well after seven years in the business..."


What!?!

He assures us he does wear fall protection (and that he asked the reporter to change the wording; it didn't get changed).

Let's hope so! We're so grateful for his good recovery and sure don't want to live through something like that again anytime soon.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

technology

Gizmo

This mysterious bit of technology is located on the Pier on North Vancouver's historic Wallace / Versatile Shipyards site.

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Next week: MUSIC (Singing, Dancing, Playing, Instruments, iPods, Concerts,...)

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